DENVER >> Two small airplanes collided in midair today near Denver, leaving one aircraft nearly ripped in half and forcing the pilot of the other to deploy a parachute attached to the plane to land safely. Remarkably, no one was injured, officials said.
Both planes were getting ready to land at a small regional airport in a Denver suburb when they collided mid-morning, according to the National Transportation Safety Board and South Metro Fire Rescue.
“Every one of these pilots needs to go buy a lottery ticket right now,” Arapahoe County Sherriff’s Deputy John Bartmann said. “I don’t remember anything like this — especially everybody walking away. I mean that’s the amazing part of this.”
The pilot was the only person aboard a twin-engine Fairchild Metroliner that landed at Centennial Airport despite suffering major damage to its tail section. The plane is owned by a Colorado-based company called Key Lime Air that operates cargo aircraft.
A pilot and one passenger were on the other plane, a Cirrus SR22 single-engine plane that unleashed a red and white parachute to float to a safe landing in a field near homes in Cherry Creek State Park, Bartmann said.
It was not immediately known who owned the Cirrus plane, he said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said in a tweet it was sending staff to investigate the incident. Key Lime Air will cooperate with the investigation, the company said in a statement.